Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Meat is murder or tasty?

Horse sushiNot to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but yesterday's post definitely had an emotionally charged element to it. I know there are many people who feel strongly about the topic, but aren't comfortable weighing in.

I also know that there's very little that's scientific about these polls, but I was curious to get more anonymous feedback on the topic. Plus, I do love me a poll and, frankly, I was a bit surprised by some of the comments.

By the way, the picture on the upper left is of horse meat sushi. The raw meat is supposedly sweet.

Please choose one of the following that closest matches your beliefs (I can't exactly enter all the permutations):

Tomorrow I'll get back on track with the book club! I promise...


Anonymous said...

That poll doesn't quite work for me... I'm vegan, so animal products are out, and I think in many cases it's a good ideal for most people. But I can't say it's morally wrong to eat any animals. Unwise would be a better word for me.

So I'm abstaining :P

Kim said...

The poll doesn't quite work for me either. I'm not a vegan, but I am heavily vegetarian ("flexitarian" I guess)and would have probably picked the second to last option. BUT...I'm also an Alaskan who feels strongly in the importance of sustainable, subsistence based hunting and fishing...especially for people in rural areas (like the Alaskan bush) where there is no way to curd the high costs of commercial foods.) I guess that option doesn't quite specify against wild animals...but somehow I didn't quite feel it included them either.

Kelsie said...

The poll doesn't work for me, either (sorry, Crunchy!!) because I ONLY eat animals/animal products that were either a). organically fed, allowed room to roam, and humanely dispatched of or b). dispatched of humanely in the wild. If I had my way, I'd only eat meat that either myself or a relative hunted, and that is where a lot of my meat comes from. When I'm hard up for chicken or pork, though (we've got a freezer full of elk and deer right now), I like to make humane choices.

Anonymous said...

I believe that animals should be treated with respect and dignity, but that it is natural for humans to eat them. Native Americans prayed for the souls of the animals they killed, and made sure not to waste any part of the animal. They lived with animals, as a fellow animal, not above them.

The most disappointing things about modern husbandry is that it does create a lot of waste, is too production focused, and has no respect for animals. The waste has created an animal based diet, whereas the natural human diet uses animal meat and byproducts as supplements to a plant based diet.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I too had problems with the poll. Since we have decimated the predator populations in the US, deer and other wild critters need to be thinned out for their well being as well as for ours. Killing an animal humanely IS significantly different than the slaughterhouse nightmare and I would support legislation for greater safeguards. And there are subsistance hunters etc. But however it is done, it is still killing and eating the flesh of another sentient being which has feelings, fears, family. And mawkish as this may sound to some many studies in recent decades fly in the face of ancient stereotypes of 'dumb animals'. I think we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions and try to be as objective as possible in considering them. Why do we feel the need to eat meat when there are many excellent sources of nutrition available. Does this desire to consume flesh outweigh another creatures right to live. At this point many will say animals don't have rights other than those we, the human animals allow. Hmm, think of the Chinese and Tibetan sruggle going on currently. Might makes right?
Certainly we can use the rationale that one can choose to eat only animals which are 'humanely' slaughtered. But substitute any person you know, no matter how big an asshole, for that animal. How humane would that killing be if it were done to a human. I really feel that "humane" and "slaughter" somehow don't work together.
Finally, considering the ecological impact of meat consumption is a far more pressing matter in some ways than moral considerationshttp:
And from the PB&J Campaign
"A PB&J will slow global warming.

Next time you have one you'll reduce your carbon footprint by saving the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets.

That's about forty percent of what you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan. "
In an ideal world we wouldn't have factory farms and house of horror abbatoirs, but we do. And we will so long as we feel it is our (plug in divinity of choice here) given right to eat other animals whenever we wish.

jewishfarmer said...

Like others, I had the same problem (Gee, Crunchy, can't you think of *everything?! ;-)) - I believe animals you raise yourself in conditions natural to them and kill humanely and wild animals are vastly preferrable to other options.


Sam said...

I feel rambly...

I picked the last option: "People should be able to eat whatever they want regardless of how it was raised or dispatched (this includes hunting wild animals)".

I am mostly vegan (and eat meat when its offered) but I don't care what people eat. I sort of actively dislike all animals - don't like them, but don't mind them either. I am upset about the latest downer cow incident...but am honestly not upset enough to do anything about it. Animal issues just don't rank very high for me. I personally will avoid causing them harm (except for mice) but don't think I should decide how people ought to behave toward them.

My views are clear to me but am not sure I articulated them well here.

anna j said...

i'm with kelsie and sharon on this one.

DC said...

Morality is a slippery thing. As I mentioned yesterday, I am a vegetarian, but even consuming dairy products results in animals being killed since dairy cows are eventually slaughtered when they stop producing milk.

It's nearly impossible to live in this world and not cause some harm. Here are some more things I do that hurt animals (and people):

- I use electricity from coal plants that results in a host of environmental and health problems.

- I spend money on things I don't absolutely need to survive instead of giving it to people who are starving to death.

- I risk killing someone every time I drive a car (I'm not a bad driver -- but statistically speaking, there's always a risk).

- I occasionally buy things that are potentially made with sweatshop labor.

- I generally live a first world lifestyle, which requires other people to live in poverty. I could live more frugally and do more to help others, but I don't.

I'm not perfect -- nowhere close. I don't think it's right for me to judge other people based on my ideals when I can't even follow them myself all the time. People can make their own moral decisions without my help.

scifichick said...

The poll doesn't really work for me either... I'm looking for a "people should be able to eat whatever they want, as long as it's raised and killed humanely" option. People all over the world eat a lot of strange things, and I don't feel like government should dictate what I can, or can not eat.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "other" - that I'd rather eat an animal that had been hunted after living a quality life than one raised in horrible conditions and misery. I found Barbara Kingsolver's observation in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" interesting, that (I'm paraphrasing, obviously) her roosters weren't staying up all night worrying that they would be killed -- but still, we eat lightly of humanely raised meat.

Chile said...

Morality or ethics don't figure into my decision to be vegan. I'm vegan because I'm cheap. A plant-based diet is cheaper to eat now and cheaper for me later because I won't have the health problems associated with eating animal products. (See PubMed for studies that weigh in on whether a vegan diet is healthy. Look carefully at design of research and funding to weed out skewed research.) By staying healthier, I'm also helping the planet by reducing the resources needed to cure me of preventable diseases as well as not having to take medication that I later pee out into the water supply. By eating lower on the food chain, I use less resources including my own energy. Reading blogs and books shows just how much work animals require, even if pastured on crappy land. And speaking of crappy land that can't be farmed, it was interesting to read about a garden tour of beautiful lush gardens that people had built on bedrock. Over the years, they built up the soil so they could garden. Steep slopes are terraced in many countries as well. As a vegan, I can choose to eat a whole foods healthy diet or eat highly processed foods, just like meat-eaters can make that choice.

Anonymous said...

At current standing, the highest poll is that it's okay to eat horses, cats and rabbits? *gah*

just ducky said...

I was raised in a family of hunters...primarily deer hunters. I know in the area that I live in--we have at times struggled with the deer population becoming too large which has led to greatly increasing numbers of car accidents (when they dart across the road at night) as well as disease/starvation within the deer population. The hunting--which is strictly monitored--allows the deer population to be kept in numbers where it is less harmful to the deer themselves as well as motorists. Permits are required in order to be able to hunt...and you may not shoot any deer not listed on the permit--whether that be buck or doe. Fawns are NOT allowed to be killed and ALL killed deer must be brought in to be registered. And, deer hunting is limited to a few weeks per year right at the beginning of winter. Although I personally do not hunt, nor do I eat venison--my sister's family uses the venison meat to live on all year long.

I respect the many good reasons that people choose to be vegan or vegetarian, but I also respect my family's right to deer hunt. For me--it is the outright abuse of animals that I cannot stand. Humane conditions/ well as humane death...well I can't fault anyone for that...

noradawn said...

I also can't vote. I don't eat any animals at all, but I'm not opposed to other people eating meat. I think people who eat meat should be willing and/or able to kill it themselves. So I respect people who hunt for meat, or raise it themselves in humane ways. I think mass production of meat animals and slaughterhouse conditions are deplorable, and I don't support that kind of meat consumption at all. I think it creates people who are far too removed from their food's origins.

All that said, if people wanted to humanely raise, kill, and eat horses, dogs, cats, whatever- that's fine with me. But I won't be doing it.

Jennifer said...

I wish there was an option that included hunting but did not allow ANYTHING (like the last option.) A mix of the second to last option and responsible ethical hunting would be the one I would have voted for (even as a veggie).

Joyce said...

I'm with Just Ducky-We had a deer crash through our living room picture window, bungle around in our house for a while, and then go out through another window. This was a year ago November. And we live in the middle of town! Damage-almost $6ooo smackers, covered by insurance, thankfully.
Now, had that deer been thinned out of the herd by a hunter instead of running around our neighborhood until he bled out, he (and we) would have been better off.
Around here, they are cornfed, fat, and sassy, and there are way to many of them. I know this all started about horses, but, hey, we've digressed plenty already, so I just had to put my two cents in.

Pen of Jen said...

I have read your blog for a while. I am not a fan of your blog because I believe that man is at fault for everything, and that the world is at a panic state of global warming due to my driving.

I read your blog, because I have tried to be a good steward to all I have been entrusted to. I like the tips and ideas I get from you.

I think that this question would be moot if we were in a country that hunger is see, we have the luxury of deciding that the animal feels things because we have ample options.

If one surveyed those in famine torn Africa this same policy, I think that the results would be dramatically different...especially if it was as serious as my child living or not.

Just my thoughts.

Greenpa said...

I voted. DC, I like your endpoint,

"I'm not perfect -- nowhere close. I don't think it's right for me to judge other people based on my ideals when I can't even follow them myself all the time. People can make their own moral decisions without my help."

Very very much. Legislating moral choices has pretty much always been a losing proposition.

Crunchy- you were surprised that discussions about "meat" get emotional!? I'm surprised! :-)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - I wasn't surprised that discussions about "meat" get emotional. I was surprised by some of the comments regarding the horsemeat bill - I expected more people to be for it.

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

I'm a vegetarian and eat a litte milk/dairy.

I don't think it's HORRIBLE to eat animals, but we Americans have such an addiction to meat we've created an unsustainable, awful meat industry. Nothing about it is good. (Yes, it creates jobs - but some of the worst, most dangerous jobs in the country!)

And I wouldn't make any exceptions for animals that can or can't be eaten. That's what I've always found so strange about us. On one hand, we love pets and cuddly animals and stuff ourselves with pig and cow. Why differentiate? It honestly doesn't make much sense to me, but then I couldn't eat any kind of animal - not that I'm a big fan of animals or pets (with Beany on that).

Jennifer is right, we are privileged to have this discussion. But we are also "privileged" to have meat as a cornerstone of the average American's diet. People in Africa eat grains, we eat cows that eat 50 lbs of grains.

I'm not judging others, it's not a moral issue with animals - it just doesn't make sense to not see how our addiction to eating meat affects our nation and world.

Greenpa said...

Crunch- if I'm not mistaken, there was only one actual "horse person" who commented yesterday- Caitlin Walsh; and she said:

"Many horses are dying of starvation. Good trainers and breeders are struggling to keep their businesses alive because the market is completely flooded with spare equines. "

Which presents a totally different picture from what the HSUS is promoting. Tons of room for honest confusion- the good thing is; people on both sides are mostly motivated by the well being of the horses. There are just some really different beliefs about where the reality is. My views mostly come from my Amish neighbors and friends. I'm afraid my opinion on where the HSUS view comes from would be incendiary at this point- so I'll hush up.

:-) hang in there.

Anonymous said...

the poll is well-meant. I think a big question is - do people choose not to eat meat because they think it's wrong to consume animals, or do people choose not to eat meat because they a) disagree with the way they are raised/treated b) don't want to support the big agri-business c)object to the amount of energy etc that goes into raising animals for slaughter.
i personally think that eating meat is a very natural thing to do, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it, but that there are serious ethical issues with the "culture of meat" these days.

Anonymous said...

You think WE have problems; and emotions: elephants.

Originally they harvested ivory; and canned the meat- then the PETA types shut that down; which caused huge elephant overpopulation. They tried elephant "birth control" - it just does not work; and was insanely expensive, to boot.

No, it's not easy, any of it.

ruchi said...

Like Beany, I am not really that sentimental about animals. I used to be a vegetarian mostly because I feel that eating meat is an inefficient use of resources. Then I stopped being a vegetarian mostly because I felt like my one person abstention from eating meat wasn't really doing much.

But I don't feel it is right to make moral decisions either. I am fine with the government making certain decisions for the good of society (like say water use regulations or carbon taxes) but I wouldn't say those were moral decisions, I'd say that was an allocation of resources decision. Anytime you start talking morality and getting government involved, I feel like you're in dangerous territory.

In any case, I do think something should be done about industrial meat production, but other than that I don't think I should judge. Let he who is without sin and all that jazz. So I picked the last option.

cheflovesbeer said...

It is interesting to me what people eat and why. Good post.

Grant said...

I'll echo some of the other comments here. The last poll option makes it seem as though hunted animals are somehow not killed as humanely as farm raised animals. I do not believe this to be true in all or even most circumstances. It's also worth noting that hunted animals are about as "free range" as you can get. So, even though I voted for the second to last option, I would consider most hunted animals to fit into that category as well.

Anonymous said...

I took one of the reader's advise and watched a slaughter house video. Not an easy thing to watch. Is organic meat a humane option? I know they don't use antibiotics and such, but how are the animals living conditions and the process of killing? If it isn't humane, I would give up meat totally.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen this documentary called "Earthlings" narrated by Joaquin Phoenix?
It is basically about how humans rely on animals for everything and it covers every industry esp. the ones that are all for profit (with hidden cameras so you can really see how we humans disrespect the animal world).

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

A number of the comments indicated that they don't feel it is right to make moral judgements, or as the old phrase has it, "you can't legislate morality". Hmm, let's think for a moment. There are laws against theft, murder, trespassing, fraud,necrophilia, bribery, nudity in public(that one IS awfully silly in my opinion). All those and myriad others are moral issues, and morality IS legislated and we do all of us make moral judgements every day. Do you teach kids not to cheat, lie, mock those less fortunate, punch other kids in the head? ALL moral judgements.
To say that because we are flawed beings doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't make ethical and moral judgements; we could not have a civilized society without doing so.
Is eating meat immoral? Sticky question, but I can believe it is wrong for a number of reasons without wanting to make it illegal.
That would never work. I think if you choose to eat your own pig, horse, dog or whatever(well, maybe not the kids) feel free. I do think everyone ought to ask themselves whether this is best for their health, the health of the planet and whether satisfying their own personal taste is worth so much suffering on the part of the other animals. Oh, yeah, cannibalism is illegal too- I think that is also a moral judgement.

Natural Louisville said...

I voted for the "eat only humanely raised domesticated animals" option without realizing the next choice included wild game. (Damn ADHD!)

Wild game was good enough for countless generations of hunter/gatherers so it's good enough for me, though with my coordination and skill I'd have been wiped from the gene pool long ago if relying on my own hunting. Ah, well.

I'm a proud crazy cat lady and I'm not eating my kitties, even if we're starving. I'll just go down with my ship and let them eat me. I'd feel better about it that way.

From the lion's mouth said...

"The waste has created an animal based diet, whereas the natural human diet uses animal meat and byproducts as supplements to a plant based diet."

Oh yes? Ask the Inuit how much plant matter they ate as part of their traditional diet.

The natural human diet varies from all meat to some meat some plants, but it's not a plant-based diet.

And I'm pretty sure that if I got hungry enough, I'd eat my bunny, and the guinea pig, and probably even the cat.

Phelan said...

I have eaten a plethera of foods that most Americans would not. It is part of my job. Now I raise and butcher my own meat, and that will include the Dexters. Once upon a time I was a vegan, that was until I became pregnant and I craved pork. I gave in, and have been eating all kinds of meat ever since. One thing that I have learned since raising my own food, is that if people didn't eat them they would end up going extict for the reason that some cattle and some poutlry breeds are not as desirable as the massivly bred meats that you purchase at the grocery. Without the people that grow there own, cattle like my Dexters would no longer be around. Save an animal by eating it. Or have tons of money to spend to open your own petting zoo. Hunting serves a similar purpose as it helps control populations, as someone else pointed out. I have much more I could say, but I spent the day halter training a calf and just finished milking. My hands hurt.

Anonymous said...

I chose the second-to-last option because I believe that hunting can fit within that category and doesn't need to be in the last one. Hunted animals have lived in a natural way, fulfilling their inherent "animalness" (as Joel Salatin might say), and if the hunters are skilled they can kill humanely as well.

I enjoy eating meat but do so only once or twice a week at most b/c it's more frugal to do so. And I think that we could sustain an ethical meat production industry with less cost to the environment if meat were not considered something one has to eat every day.

I think optimum health arises from considering the natural dietary context in which we have spent much of our evolutionary past developing (at least from Homo species onwards). I think vegetarianism, while admirable in its philosophy, represents an unnatural (and therefore suboptimal) diet for humans.

Interestingly, I heard on the radio today that studies are showing diets based on animal fats (as opposed to vegetarian diets) actually reduce the incidence of various forms of cancer. It doesn't surprise me any more than feeding animal products to herbivores compromises their health.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe there are people like Beany who say that they actively dislike animals. It makes me feel sick, and understand why our country is in the state that it is in. Not to pick on just one person, the same feelings were hinted at by many. But if animals rights are so low on the priority list, what's to say that soon children won't fall off there, or the elderly. For me, there is no real division between people and animals when it comes to ethics. Suffering is just not allowable.

Then again, I can see by the health statistics how Americans are treating themselves, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised how they would treat something they actively dislike. Yuk.

Anonymous said...

The poll doesn't work for me! I think hunting is a fine way for meat eaters to get their meat and much more humane than factory farms.

Greenpa said...

Emerald Moon- "I cannot believe there are people like Beany who say that they actively dislike animals."

I think; I'm guessing- that in most cases the reality is they are AFRAID of animals. For many reasons, but 98% of the time this includes growing up in a city, with very little happy animal contact.

cindy24 said...

I have spent my life in animal rescue. I don't eat meat. My kids do when with others. If people have to eat meat I think it should be raised with respect. I am conflicted about people raising their own. On one hand, if people had to kill their own food, more people would do without meat. On the other hand, I just can't grasp the concept of raising and caring for an animal and participating in its death. I am one who "relocates" snails. I also don't like the use of the word "dispatched"...seems too light of a word for what happens. I fully support the horse bill. We currently have laws that prohibit the consumption of dogs and cats. In Los Angeles we have a new law that requires you to spay/neuter your pet. Yes, I supported that too. Having three foster cats in my garage proves to me that people sometimes need laws to protect animals who have no voices.

Sam said...

O also to be clear. I dislike kids and old people. I'm child free by choice and avoid contact with anyone over 40 (with some rare exceptions). Actually on some days I dislike every one and every thing.

But...I read blogs by parents that post baby pictures and watch the latest exploits by junior on youtube. I like to enjoy the good parts of parenthood without actually being one. I love baby sitting toddlers. And there are many people over 40 whose share their thoughts and opinions that I really value.

I guess I am saying that I am a very complex individual. And I'm very cheeky :P

Sam said...

To explain why I dislike (do I explain opinions? Seems a bit silly) animals...I have grown up around them (domesticated cats, dogs, chickens, goats, cows, elephants)...I just don't like them...the best I can explain this dislike is that some people love cilantro (me), and some people absolutely hate it (people I know).
I feel alot of empathy toward animals and their suffering and it really bugs me...but animals rights don't rank very high up as I have to prioritize. My big concern is overpopulation and oil consumption. I do take care of feral and stray cats that doesn't mean I'm going to cuddle up with one. Also can I get points for being a vegan? How many vegans dislike animals?

Sorry feelings have nothing to do with fear actually. Also I think that in an urban environment its somewhat impractical to own cats or dogs because of the lack of space and problems involved with having one(using plastic for scooping poop for example). I think its cruel that people own large dogs in the city.

This got a bit off topic. Sorry crunchy!

Isle Dance said...

I think we're smart enough to figure out how to thrive without harming in the process. The question: Who is willing to do this? I'm working on it...

Akkire said...

I voted that I think it is morally wrong to eat any animals...but I personally do eat animals right now. With the way Americans consume meat, like it is a necessity and not a luxury, it is impossible to raise and sustain healthy animals and environments and meet the consumption need at the same time. when americans can take responsibility for how much they consume and KNOW where their meat comes from, then maybe it would not be morally wrong for anyone to eat anything, including hunted game, if it is killed humanely.

Anonymous said...

Not okay to ever eat any animals, for any reason.

1) Would we not have a fit if our pets decided it was fine for them to eat us? You think I'm kidding, but it's this kind of "we outrank them" thinking that I find irritating.

2) No practical reason to eat meat. No practical reason to consume any animal products, period. We don't need them, in the least, to survive and thrive, and animal products involve a load of resources that could be better used to feed populations with a harder time getting enough food. People in Latin America are having food supply problems because more and more land is being cleared to raise beef to be shipped to America. That's just insane.

3) Yeah, you can say "oh, sustainable, humane, etc." But are things properly regulated? Look at all the abuse of the free-range label, the nonregulation, the "organic" factory farms, the companies that obey the letter, not the spirit. And even if you're raising the animals yourself -- do you REALLY think it's okay to kill another living creature just because you could eat beans and be perfectly happy and healthy, but you feel like eating chicken instead? Seriously?

I really, really understand that a lot of people LIKE meat and animal products. But LIKING something -- really, really liking it -- doesn't mean that you SHOULD consume it. It just doesn't.

People don't want to hear this, though. They don't want to have to give up things that they love. But reduction (elimination) of animal product consumption is far, far better for the environment than just about any other change the average person can make, and, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a meat-eating environmentalist. It's picking and choosing only what you find convenient, and it shows a lack of real commitment or conviction.

In my opinion, meat-and-dairy consumers need to stop dissembling and cop to the truth: "I eat meat and dairy, knowing that animals are harmed in their production, because I like eating these things, and the pleasure of eating them, to me, outweighs the animals' suffering and/or deprivation of life."

But people don't want to say that. So they try to make it about something, anything else. But the bottom line is that you're making that judgment every time you eat meat or dairy, and part of consuming animals and animal products should be to be man enough to own up to it. And if you can't? Stop doing it.

People go on and on about only doing what they "can," but if we all only do what we feel like we can...does the meat-loving Hummer driver not feel like he's doing what he can, and just can't part with his steaks and his giant, unnecessary vehicle? If environmentalists can't do better, how can we expect those who don't identify as environmentalists to do better?

--Shana in MO

Isle Dance said...

Shana in MO,

Excellent points. I think if people thought about eating their pet cats and dogs, it might help them see this more vividly, too.

Isle Dance said...

Or should I have said kittens and puppies?